The Shiv Sena on Tuesday expressed its unhappiness over its ally Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) attempts to woo Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray.
The Sena was reacting over the meeting between senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari and the MNS chief to discuss possibilities of joining hands with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
"There is no room for another party in the alliance. We had extended our hand when MNS had refused it. As an alliance, we are strong enough to defeat the Congress government," said Sena MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut.
He added that what Gadkari did was in his personal capacity and not on behalf of his party.
"In Maharashtra, it is Gopinath Munde and Devendra Fadnavis who call the shots," Raut added.
He said that this kind of confusion in the BJP will affect the vote share of the alliance.
The Sena leader also expressed confidence of his party firmly holding onto the Marathi electorate in Maharashtra.
"Marathi votes will remain with Shiv Sena only. Nobody can dare take it away from us," he said.
"The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance will defeat Congress-NCP and would win as many as 40 seats out of the total 48 Lok Sabha in Maharashtra," Raut claimed.
Meanwhile, Raj held a meeting with his legislators on Tuesday to discuss his strategy.
"Whatever decision he takes will be in the benefit of Marathi manoos and Maharashtra. We are ready with our candidate list," MNS legislator Bala Nandgaonkar said.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had expressed his displeasure over the Gadkari-Raj meeting saying that there is a communication gap within the BJP.
"Those within the BJP who are praising Congress-NCP leaders are responsible for creating a communication gap. It is the internal matter of the BJP but the Mahayuti is determined to unseat the Congress-NCP government," said Uddhav.
He also called BJP chief Rajnath Singh and summoned Maharashtra BJP chief Fadnavis over the matter on Monday night.
Garkari met the MNS chief on Monday in a Mumbai hotel without the Sena's knowledge and reportedly appealed to him to abstain from contesting the Lok Sabha elections to avoid splitting the anti-Congress vote.
After the meeting, Gadkari had told reporters that he discussed ways to get rid of the Congress government with the MNS chief.
"There is no reason for Uddhav Thackeray to be annoyed over my meeting Raj... I meet everybody including Congress people," he said.
"We want to ensure that the Congress-NCP don't benefit from a split in the anti-Congress vote. If the MNS abstains it will help the Shiv Sena candidates. Don't think the Sena is upset," he said.
The BJP state president too denied that the Sena is upset. He said in a tweet that the meeting with Uddhav was a scheduled one to discuss the BJP-Sena joint campaign.
However, RPI(A) led by Ramdas Athawale, also an important constituent of the Mahayuti led by BJP and Shiv Sena, said he would "welcome" Raj into NDA-fold.
MNS' high-pitch debut in 2009 elections had caused a large scale division of Marathi votes and ensured the defeat of Sena candidates in Lok Sabha and assembly polls.
(With PTI inputs)
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